Test your alarm for life. Your smoke alarm has the power to save your life. Or does it? If you haven't tested your smoke alarm lately, it may not be working, and that's a risk you can't afford to take. Working smoke alarms give us early warning of a fire, providing extra time to escape safely. But they can't do their job if we haven't done ours -- monthly testing to make sure they're working.
When was the last time you tested your smoke alarms?
Test each one, every month, so you'll know they'll be ready to protect you and your family if there's a fire.
How much time do you have to get out of a fire?
Not as much as you think. Real fires are hot, smoky and dark. You may have only a very few minutes to safely escape from fire. If you're ever in a fire, don't spend time getting dressed or trying to gather valuables. Just get out and stay out. Then call the fire department from a neighbor's telephone.
You'll have a better chance of getting out safely if you've planned ahead. Develop a fire escape plan and practice it with the whole family. Everyone should know two ways out of each room and know where to meet outside. Make sure everyone understands that getting out is the first priority.
'Get out, stay out'
What would you do if your home caught on fire? Would you know where to go if smoke or flames blocked your escape? There is no time to think about these questions in a real fire. It's hot, smoky and so dark you may not be able to see your own hands. Know ahead of time what to do if there's a fire. Develop an escape plan with two ways out of every room. You'll need a second way in case your primary exit is blocked by smoke or flames. And make sure every exit is accessible, including windows. Getting out is your first priority in a fire. And once out, stay out.
Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
From 2006-2010, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 11,640 home structure fires that were started by candles. These fires caused 126 deaths, 953 injuries and $438 million in direct property damage. Candles caused 3 percent of reported home fires, 5 percent of home fire deaths, 7 percent of home fire injuries, and 6 percent of the direct property damage from home fires in 2010.
Facts and figures
During the five-year period of 2006-20010:
* Roughly one-third (35 percent) of home candle fires started in bedrooms. These fires caused 42 percent of the associated deaths and 45 percent of the associated injuries.
* On average, 32 home candle fires were reported per day.
* Falling asleep was a factor in 11 percent of the home candle fires and 43 percent of the associated deaths.
In 2010, cooking was involved in an estimated 156,400 home structure fires that were reported to U.S. fire departments.
These fires caused 420 deaths, 5,310 injuries and $993 million in direct property damage.
Cooking caused 44 percent of reported home fires, 16 percent of home fire deaths, 40 percent of home fire injuries, and 15 percent of the direct property damage in 2010.
Facts & figures
Based on 2006-2010 annual averages:
* Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in these fires.
* Two-thirds (67 percent) of home cooking fires started with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.
* Clothing was the item first ignited in less than 1 percent of these fires, but these incidents accounted for 16 percent of the cooking fire deaths.
* Ranges accounted for the largest share (58 percent) of home cooking fire incidents. Ovens accounted for 16 percent.
* Three of every five (57 percent) reported non-fatal home cooking fire injuries occurred when the victims tried to fight the fire themselves.
* Frying poses the greatest risk of fire.
* Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires.
U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 47,820 reported home structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction from 2007-2011. These fires resulted in 455 civilian deaths, 1,518 civilian injuries and $1.5 billion in direct property damage.
Facts & figures
* Roughly half (48 percent) of home electrical failure fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment in 2007-2011.
* In 2007-2011, 46 percent of electrical failure home fires involved other known type of equipment. The leading other known type of equipment involved in home electrical failure fires are washers or dryers, fans, and portable or stationary space heaters.
* U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 22,410 reported home structure fires involving electrical distribution or lighting equipment in 2007-2011. These fires resulted in 325 civilian fire deaths, 950 civilian fire injuries, and $817 million in direct property damage.
* Some type of electrical failure or malfunction was cited as factor contributing to ignition for 74 percent of electrical distribution or lighting equipment home structure fires.
In 2011, there were 1,389,500 fires reported in the United States. These fires caused 3,005 civilian deaths, 17,500 civilian injuries, and $11.7 billion in property damage.
* 484,500 were structure fires, causing 2,640 civilian deaths, 15,635 civilian injuries, and $9.7 billion in property damage.
* 219,000 were vehicle fires, causing 300 civilian fire deaths, 1,190 civilian fire injuries, and $1.4 billion in property damage.
* 686,000 were outside and other fires, causing 65 civilian fire deaths, 675 civilian fire injuries, and $616 million in property damage.
By the Numbers: The 2011 U.S. fire loss clock
A fire department responded to a fire every 23 seconds. One structure fire was reported every 65 seconds.
* One home structure fire was reported every 85 seconds.
* One civilian fire injury was reported every 30 minutes.
* One civilian fire death occurred every 2 hours and 55 minutes.
* One outside fire was reported every 46 seconds.